I hate that it’s come to this
If you’ve been on your Facebook feed anytime within the past few weeks, you know that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is cracking down on Transport Network Vehicles (TNVs) of both Uber and Grab for not having the correct franchises or licenses to operate. There’s overwhelming public sentiment against the LTFRB’s decision that will become executory on July 26, which would effectively cripple the fleet both Uber and Grab.
While I’m symphatetic for the plight of people affected by this crackdown, I think a larger issue is being ignored here, and that’s the ridiculously rotten public transport system we current have in the Philippines. I’ve been to enough foreign countries to know that riding cars isn’t the ideal way to transport large amount of people from point a to point b. Cars take up too much of the road and are generally an inefficient way of transportation in cities.
I spent around a week in Taiwan this year for COMPUTEX, and one of the biggest takeaways that I had in that city was how efficient it is getting around a metropolis when you have a public transport system that is firing on all cylinders. Their metro rail system is fast, pleasant and is friendly to both locals and foreigners. Despite constantly riding the metro during rush hour, I never felt my being was violated in any way, shape or form – which is something you’d expect when you try riding our MRT.
While I was there, I took a taxi ONCE. Public transportation was so convenient that taking the train over taking a taxi was a no brainer. It was cheaper, easier to use, and in some cases faster than hailing a cab or Uber.
And that’s what we need to strive for in this country. Uber and Grab has a lot of support from people because they’re the most convenient and safe option for a lot of working professionals in the country. Our mass transport system is a joke, and not a funny kind. Dilapidated buses, a train system that’s ridiculously anarchaic and is prone to breakage, taxis that think they’re the kings of the road – all of those things combined to make Uber and Grab the preferred choice of people who’ve grown tired of our shitty system.
And all of the blame rests on the LTFRB, and ultimately the government. The LTFRB should have been leading the charge in trying to make things easier for commuters by putting taxis in line and ensuring that public vehicles plying the roads are safe and comfortable. They should have been the ones pushing to abolish the criminal boundary system that incentivices reckless driving and enriches operators at the expense of their drivers. They should have been the ones looking to change the system, not keep it planted firmly in the last century.
Should you be angry at what’s happening with Uber and Grab? Sure. But you should be damned furious that they’re the only sensible public transport option left.